- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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DEARBORN, Mich. -- He spent four seasons with one highly-touted, highly-drafted quarterback, and now Nate Burleson might end his career playing for another one.
After four seasons working with Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, Burleson is now catching passes from the most well-known player taken in the first round of the 2014 draft, Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel.
While Burleson joked he’s going to stay out of the spotlight of Manziel -- he’s too old for that now as he turns 33 in August -- he sees one similarity between Stafford and Manziel, who are otherwise very different quarterbacks in terms of style.
“The one thing they are quite comfortable in is that they are quietly cocky, which is a great characteristic to have at the quarterback position,” Burleson said. “You want to walk in the huddle and know that the guy throwing you the ball, you’re, like, he’s the best.
“Johnny has that. Matt has that. We’ll see what happens. But [Brian] Hoyer’s playing great right now and he’s coming off an ACL, not even 100 percent and he’s playing at a high level, so we have a great quarterback position. We’ve got some good things going up in Cleveland.”
At least from the outside, Manziel is rarely described as quiet. Has he been described by some as cocky? Sure. Confident? Absolutely. Someone who could end up being Cleveland’s starter? Possibly.
But quiet is not something you often hear about Manziel.
“From what I’ve seen [he is],” Burleson said. “Outside looking in, everybody has their misconceptions about him. He’s acting like a rookie should, which is don’t say nothing.
“But I know what he’s thinking. I know he’s like, ‘I’m the man.’ He’s supposed to think that. Now he’s not acting like that. He’s not walking around with his chest out. Rookies don’t do that. He understands the role he’s in. But I can tell he knows how good he is, and he should be. He’s a talented dude.”
From a production standpoint, Cleveland would likely take Stafford’s statistics over the past five seasons. In a pass-first offense, Stafford has completed 1,485 of 2,497 passes for 17,457 yards, 109 touchdowns and 73 interceptions.
But as Stafford is a passer who won’t look to run very often at all, Manziel has that capability, which makes him a more dangerous quarterback in some ways. But if one thing carries Manziel as it did Stafford, Burleson is correct: That confidence Manziel has will absolutely help.